<b>what she says:</b> I'm fine<p/><b>what she means:</b> Honestly, the exploration of the shifting western gender dichotomy in the 1980s and how it’s displayed through the lens of same-sex relationships is one of the most profoundly striking (yet subtle) themes in both acts of the musical Falsettos (March of the Falsettos as well as Falsettoland) and I am severely disappointed that fans don’t discuss it enough. For instance, we initially have a character like Marvin who sees men and women, as well as their respective “roles” in relation to him through a very linear, black and white lens. This worldview of his isn’t challenged in the least until he falls in love with another man, Whizzer Brown, who he can’t manage to force into a box of preconceived stereotypes. Whizzer is a proud, openly gay and promiscuous man living in suburban New York, and while many of his observable traits could make him look like a caricature of his identity (sexual selectiveness, materialist attitudes, overt pride in his physical appearance and that of others), he also possesses many attributes that contradict that stereotype and make him seem like more of a Manly Man than Marvin would want him to be (his love for baseball, the Manliest Man sport™ and general passion for athleticism, and his loyalty, kindness, and family man sensibilities). Whizzer doesn’t feel constrained to a box where his sexuality needs to match up with stereotypes about how he behaves or expresses himself; he just is who he is. Marvin, being the linear thinker (and we can assume older of the two) is unnerved by the fact that Whizzer can’t fit into his two boxes of what’s acceptable (gay or straight, masc or femme, pink or blue), and thus resorts to forcing him into the homemaker, a role he’s learned to play opposite of and DOMINATE. Whizzer understandably hates this, culminating in their breakup at the end of act 1.<p/><b></b> Marvin doesn’t see “both sides” of Whizzer until the baseball game in act 2, observing how Whizzer comes to support his child and shows expertise with how to play the game (How Masculine1!1!), prompting him to want to make things work again. He is able to fully accept the qualities of his own sexual longing and intimacy in What More Can I Say, qualities that he once DETESTED in Whizzer (“Whizzer screws too much to see, what a joy is chastity”) and begins to see a nuanced, full fleshed version of himself in what Whizzer was from the beginning. He continues to unconditionally love Whizzer even when he’s sick with AIDs (having figuratively and literally lost all of his physical strength and stamina to the disease, qualities that he was once able to capitalize on) and Marvin is shocked at how much he loves this man who can’t even stand up, let alone fully hold him or be intimate with him. He loves Whizzer beyond the boxes he used to desire to put him in, he’s no longer an object for sex nor the pinnacle of athleticism, and THAT is what Marvin learns to love (“Do you know, all I want is YOU, anything you do is alright”). Finally, this culminates in What Would I Do, when Marvin is asking a departed Whizzer “what would I do if I had not loved you?” // “You’re the only one my child would allow” // “who would I BE if I had not loved you” // “how would I know what love is?” All are indicative of how Whizzer’s companionship opened his mind and his heart, showing him that true love doesn’t come in a box or a stereotype or label, it can come in any way with any kind of person.
AND THEN we have the lesbians, who are mainly responsible for giving insights on how the world of 1980s is shifting in terms of “what’s normal and what isn’t” (the opening number Falsettoland basically explains this in a way that borderline mirrors modern identity politics, but THAT’S ANOTHER RAMBLE FOR ANOTHER DAY). Even in a relationship as “new” and progressive as Charlotte and Cordelia’s, societal influences of male and female roles permeate their relationship and even the way they interact with one another. Speaking from an old-fashioned lens, you could say that Charlotte “wears the pants” in the relationship (to reference a pretty outdated and inaccurate term), as she’s the real breadwinner of the couple, making money like a boss ass bitch and doing “respectable” life saving work, whereas Cordelia services her as a homemaker and is struggling with her own catering business. While Cordelia is presented as a very optimistic and happy person who loves her career and admires her partner, you can tell she’s somewhat upset with this accepted power struggle, even from the “funny” line “You save lives and I save chicken fat, I can’t fucking deal with that?!?” She literally can’t deal with the fact that even in a world where she should be considered an equal to her partner in every way, she still can’t be because of the world they live in and the norms she feels like she needs to conform to. When Charlotte is gloating “do you know how great my life is?!?” Cordelia responds almost bitterly “yes I KNOW how great your life is” implying that she’s heard it a million times before,and no matter what she’ll never have what her partner has. She struggles with getting Charlotte to open up at certain points, which makes connecting hard for her “Something bad is happening // Which she’d never say // it must be SOMETHING IN HER WAY”. Overall the commentary on how gender norms changed the face of LGBT life in this show is so interesting and WHY DO WE SLEEP ON THIS?!? I CANNOT GET ENOUGH. I MYSELF HAVE NOT SLEPT IN FOUR DAYS.<p/></p>
Legendary Black History Moment: On January 30, 1995, the American Music Awards had aired. Many had performed along with Prince (pictured here) but lets talk about this shady moment (one of his best). This group of ppl backed with Quincy Jones, Nona Gaye, and many others, were singing ‘We Are The World’ by Michael Jackson at this very moment. Prince refused. Nor did he show up to the rehearsal. He was so angered by the fact Michael was concerned about third world countries starving when theres “just as much hunger here at home”, he went home and wrote a B-side called ‘Hello’ about children in America starving. Now, thats not even the good part. Pictured here is when Quincy Jones put the mic to Prince’s mouth testing him to see if he’d sing along while Prince was just standing there idling and Prince offered back his Tootsie Pop. Pure savagery.
“When I was growing up, I knew enough not to have role models in the traditional way we think of them… What is a role model? It’s someone who kind of looks like you, and grew up the same way you did, and then made a profession of where you want to land… What I did is assemble my role models a la carte… I didn’t want to be them, I just wanted that talent that they were expressing. So I stapled together, Frankenstein-style, this ‘role model.’”
I don’t think I’ll ever get over how right before Jason et al barge into the room and start preparing for the bar mitzvah, the very second before that door opens, Whizzer was getting ready to give up. He was literally just about to lay down and die, but then his family showed up and he put on a brave face instead. He didn’t ask them to leave, he didn’t ask for a minute or tell them he wasn’t up for a bar mitzvah or for anything else. He just smiled and lasted as long as he could before quietly slipping away and if that’s not love I don’t know what is.